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SBC DIGEST: Liberty sues NY Times for defamation; Associational leaders release book; Team named to find North Carolina exec


Liberty University sues NY Times for defamation
By Liberty University staff

LYNCHBURG, Va. (BP) — On July 15, Liberty University filed suit against The New York Times, its reporter Elizabeth Williamson and a photographer, alleging defamation and other claims arising from their intentionally false reporting that, among other things, misrepresented that (a) Liberty University suffered a COVID-19 outbreak when it “re-open[ed]” its campus after spring break; (b) it had “nearly a dozen” students sick with COVID symptoms; and (c) it had ignored government guidelines in reopening. These intentionally false and defamatory claims were unmistakable and reflected in The New York Times’ headlines, including “Liberty Brings Back its Students, and Coronavirus, Too” and “A University Reopened, and Students Got Sick.”

The facts, however, were just the opposite and the defendants knew this because they were told that there were no known cases of COVID-19 at the University and there were not “nearly a dozen” students with COVID-19 symptoms, and they knew Liberty University was in full compliance with all government directives, as evidenced by two publicly disclosed inspections. Indeed, ultimately, even by the close of the school year, not a single resident student had contracted COVID-19, and Liberty University’s response to the pandemic stands as a model for other institutions to follow in balancing the needs of protecting and educating their student bodies.

Read the full report here.

Read the full complaint here.

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Associations’ ‘future is bright,’ SBCAL book says
By David Roach

MCDONOUGH, Ga. (BP) — The small-town pastor seemed largely unresponsive as he sat across from his local associational mission strategist (AMS). “What a waste of time,” the AMS thought as he drove away from their consulting session. But he was wrong.

[[email protected]@40%]A year later, the pastor contacted the AMS with a report: He had done everything the associational leader suggested, and the church had outgrown its facility. The congregation had fresh energy, it purchased land for a relocation and a capital campaign was underway. “What’s next?” the pastor asked.

That is among the stories of associations’ ongoing impact conveyed in “The Baptist Association: Assisting Churches. Advancing the Gospel.” Released in June by the Southern Baptist Conference of Associational Leaders (SBCAL), the book explains the role of associations in 21st-century Southern Baptist life and offers counsel on how to lead them.

“We need pastors and Southern Baptist leaders at all levels to value our way of doing cooperative missions — starting with associational missions,” writes Ray Gentry, the book’s editor and SBCAL president. “Churches should appreciate associations for assisting them in advancing the Gospel in current, tangible and historic ways.”

The Baptist Association is the first major work on Southern Baptist associations since 1984, when the Baptist Sunday School Board published J.C. Bradley’s “A Baptist Association.” The new volume is based on recommendations and research presented in 2018 by an SBCAL study team that explored the role of associational leaders and recommended changing their title to AMS. Some of the book’s 25 contributors served on that study team.

Production of the volume was a collaborative effort. The North American Mission Board (NAMB) paid for the first printing, and will send one to each of the 1,100 Baptist associations in the Southern Baptist family. SBCAL will be sending copies to Baptist state convention executive directors and Southern Baptist Convention entity leaders. The book was printed by Rainer Publishing, which is owned by the sons of retired LifeWay Christian Resources President Thom Rainer.

Contributors to The Baptist Association describe how a local fellowship of churches can remain relevant in the era of global connectivity and online ministry resources.

“The future is bright” for associations, Gentry writes, “if we will pray and work together in humility and true partnership at all levels of SBC life for the glory of God.”

The Baptist Association is available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle editions, as well as at sbcal.org.

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N.C. board president appoints team to find next state exec
By Biblical Recorder Staff

CARY, N.C. (BP) — Melanie Wallace released the names of nine individuals who will serve on the committee tasked with finding the next executive director-treasurer for the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC).

— Noah Crowe, interim pastor at Peachtree Memorial Baptist Church in Peachtree

— Quintell Hill, pastor of Multiply Church in Monroe

— Michael Sowers, pastor of First Baptist Church in Buies Creek

— Jarrod Scott, pastor of Green Pines Baptist Church in Knightdale

— Don Warren, member of Parkwood Baptist Church in Gastonia

— Beth Wooten, member of Beulaville Baptist Church in Beulaville

— Allan Blume, interim pastor at Pittsboro Baptist Church in Pittsboro

— Jennifer Thoppil, member of Salem Baptist Church in Dobson

— Andrew Hopper, pastor of Mercy Hill Church in Greensboro

Wallace is president of the state convention’s board of directors. She made the announcement Thursday (July 16) during a board meeting at Caraway Conference Center in Sophia, N.C.

Crowe will serve as chair of the committee. “I hope that you will pray for these people,” Wallace said. “They have a difficult task.”

The responsibility for appointing the search team fell to Wallace when Milton Hollifield, the current BSC executive director-treasurer, announced in May that he plans to retire Feb. 28, 2021.

The board of directors will nominate an individual to serve as executive director-treasurer, who must be elected by messengers to the annual meeting or a special called meeting, according to the convention’s bylaws. Additional nominations may come from messengers at the annual meeting.

The 2020 BSC annual meeting is scheduled for Nov. 9-10 at Koury Convention Center in Greensboro, N.C.

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